This week, A Clockwork Orange, written by Anthony Burgess in 1962, and directed by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. The phrase “unfilmable novel” must surely be put to bed. It has been achieved so many times, and with great success. A good example of this is A Clockwork Orange; banned for so long on Kubrick’s request, it has still become one of cinema's classic adaptations. Its source material is now very respected, and can easily be found in book shops across the land. Admittedly, A Clockwork Orange at first does seem impenetrable. Following a boy named Alex, it details his exploits with local friends that soon go down some very sinister paths (both of their own making and brought upon them.) It is mostly written in 'Nadsat', a psuedo youth-slang created by Burgess, that has roots mostly in Russian and Cockney. It disappears off into this lingo very quickly, and becomes rather exhausting in its obliqueness.
Yet if offers something that not many books can upon a first reading; satisfaction. When the code is finally unlocked, the beauty of the language is constant, and unlocks a very potent, if rather distressing world. When it does switch back to English, our own language feel alien, a remarkable achievement. For a book that is less than two hundred pages long, it is accomplished, challenging, and deep. It really teaches you not only about youth culture, morality and the horror of violence, but by your own experience the way a human being learns language. The film is challenging, but vastly more accessible. There are moments where it becomes a little cartoonish, but it is incredibly faithful to the source material. Where it becomes art is on the levels only film can achieve. Music is used to great effect, not only to enhance a scene but to create one. Malcolm McDowell plays his greatest ever role, somewhere between James Dean and Macbeth. The production design creates a recognisable but dystopian London that feels very futuristic, but also very Seventies at the same time. Several scenes have gone beyond the film to become cultural memes, and once again Kubrick’s eye for lighting and direction is virtually unsurpassed.

The ending is where the two really divide, or rather in the film’s case, cut off. Anyone who is familiar with the ending of the film will find the book’s conclusion a real shock, and I can understand if rumour of Burgess’s dislike of Kubrick’s choice being true. A nice result is that they will both have an impact in different. They finish on such different notes, that each is worth checking out on their own merit. Verdict: Burgress’s source material is a wonderful read, that not only brings to the surface some great ideas, but is also genuinely academic. However the film is simply too iconic, and too strong in all aspects. It manages to look at all the themes of the source (bar perhaps one), and add a few of it own. Film.